Retail Employee Training: Improve In-store & Digital Performance
Because of the personalized way platforms can tailor the shopping experience for customers, it’s going to take more than just a sale to get people back in stores. The best retailers will emulate much of the digital experience in the physical store. Recognizing loyal customers, offering more personalized attention, and providing a consistent experience whether they are using the online store or physical store will be essential.
That’s going to mean more focus on customer data, digital tools, and retail employee training to provide a better customer experience.
The importance of Retail Employee training
Your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) will become the hub to build these relationships with shoppers regardless of whether they shop in the store or online.
Think about it this way. When a returning customer checks in on your website to shop, you know a lot about them. You know what items they look at, what they’ve purchased, and how often they shop at your online store. This can help you surface relevant products and recommendations and target specific offers based on their behavior.
It creates a better customer experience and encourages sales activity. The major players in digital know this. That’s why Amazon’s recommendation engine is responsible for more than a third of all its sales and Netflix users choose a title recommended through its personalization AI 70% of the time.Customer experience is now one of the biggest differentiators when competing with other retailers. It’s no longer something to strive for. It’s become essential. 76% of customers expect you to understand their needs and be able to deliver what they need.
You'll need to train your in-store team to provide the same level of personalized service as online retailers do.
Training Programs for Retail Employees
This shift highlights the need for training programs for retail employees. It’s a different approach to managing the floor, interacting, and improving communication with your customers.
Retail employee training will be an essential part of your evolution.
86% of customers are willing to spend more when they get a better customer experience. The majority say it’s more important than the price — especially when they are shopping in person. Retail employee training can help you create that better experience in the way your staff works with customers.
Training should start with the onboarding process. When a new employee starts, the retail employee training program should be an essential part of their introduction. With today’s customers, it means going beyond learning how to use the register and how a store is laid out. The best retail employee training program will focus on engaging with customers and how to create a better customer experience.
The retail business is known for poor training in this area. Nearly a third of retail employees said they didn’t receive any formal training in a recent survey. Most report that the training they do receive doesn’t make them any more effective at their job.
Training should focus on these areas:
- Company culture
Employees need to understand your brand and strategy to deliver a consistent experience.
- Policies and Procedures
Employees need to know where they have flexibility and where they don’t.
- Hard Skills
Employees need to learn how to operate any equipment, such as cash registers, POS systems, and barcode scanners.
- Product Knowledge
When shoppers are online, they can look up detailed information on products. When they are shopping in a store, they will expect your retail sales reps to know that information as well.
- Soft Skills
Employees need to understand your expectations for how they will engage with customers. This is one area that is often overlooked in training, yet one of the most important areas. For example - leaving a positive first impression is crucial -
Digital Training for Retail Staff
When you’re trying to replicate the personalized experience of online shopping in your store, you’ll need to provide specific digital training for retail staff. This includes both the physical skills, such as learning how to use your mobile POS devices or mobile CRM, and the way customers interact with retail brands using digital platforms.
Your retail employee training should include a focus on your website, any other online sales channels where you sell merchandise, social media, and your in-store digital platform. Sales teams need to know how all these things work to answer questions from customers efficiently.
Customers live in an omnichannel world these days. They might shop online one day, show up in the store the next, and ask a question on social media later in the week. They expect a nearly instant response whenever and however they engage with your brand.
Your employees need to be trained to move between the online and brick-and-mortar world seamlessly. They'll also need training on customer journey mapping.
The Customer Journey Map
One of the fundamentals of creating a strong digital shopping experience is customer journey mapping. It tracks a customer from the first engagement to product delivery to follow-up.
In the digital world, a customer journey map would start with the marketing that engages the customer and follow them through the lifecycle. While you’ll find a lot of versions of customer journey mapping in use, here’s a six-stage process that’s common.
In the store, the process is much the same except you have the advantage of making a personal connection. They’ll still want the same level of personalization, attention, and product information, but there’s an opportunity to make a human connection in the retail store that can build customer loyalty.
Just as customer experience experts map the journey and optimize online stores to provide a seamless experience, retail stores need to pay attention to how customers shop as well. Retail training should encompass each stage of the customer journey, expectations that customers have at each stage, and how sales reps can engage with customers to build stronger relationships.
Using Digital Tools in the Retail Store
A big part of your training will involve your CRM. When a customer walks in, you can identify who they are and have all the information about their past behavior in your hands. You could offer better recommendations and know the best way to engage with the customer to spur sales.
With the right mobile CRM, you can do all these things and more. One popular CRM solution is Retail CRM Cloud. They approach this process with four modules that should serve as the heart of bringing your online and retail store experience together.
The Sales Rep App
The sales rep app helps you identify and remember a customer’s preference. It can track online and offline visits, purchases, and offers in an app that can be used on the sales floor with mobile devices. Sales associates can look up information quickly, make changes based on customer interactions, and everything will sync automatically. When sales are made in-store, purchase tickets can be scanned or added automatically through POS systems.
The information gathered can be used to create additional marketing offers and flag customers to future follow-ups.
The Loyalty Program
This information also feeds into a loyalty program. By registering a loyalty code using QR code scans or NFC, you can integrate your loyalty program into all channels online or offline.
This enhances the customer experience by giving them rewards for shopping and helps create a community that goes beyond being a customer. It also allows you to test offers and rewards to see which actions stimulate sales.
Retail shoppers that use your app are typically your top customers. They’re more likely to shop more often and spend more on average. The retail app gives them one more reason to engage with your brand when they can’t shop in person.
Features such as push notifications for flash sales, storytelling through limited offers, and integration with your loyalty program can encourage more engagement.
By creating an eco-system that encompasses the online and retail stores experience, it gives you even more data. Retail analytics can help you determine the marketing messages that lead to conversions, the offers that drive people to shop in-store, and the rewards that trigger repeat customers.
You can measure, analyze, and optimize performance.
Creating the Optimal Customer Experience
Training is an essential component to creating the optimal customer experience. Sales reps need to be able to navigate the website as easily as they travel through the store to find just the right product for a customer.
It’s a challenge to get people to leave their homes and visit your physical store. When they do, they’re more likely to buy. You can’t afford to squander this opportunity. Too many stores are settling for one-time sales rather than trying to build lasting relationships with customers. Yet, that relationship is where the benefits are.
When you turn someone into a loyal customer, your marketing costs go down. You now have a direct connection rather than send unfocused marketing messages and hope they resonate. This lowers your customer acquisition costs both online and offline and can boost your profits. Studies show that increasing customer retention by just 5% can increase profits between 25% and 95%.
With the right training and the right tools, you can deliver a better customer experience that builds relationships and leads to loyal customers.